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IPL 2018: Rookies to watch

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Number_one_Best_Greatest_cricketThe Indian Premiere League (IPL) commences its eleventh season amidst much fanfare. The tournament has grown in stature over the past decade, and one notable feature has been its ability to provide a great platform to unknown or lesser known talents.

Like every season, the 2018 one too will see a host of new faces making their IPL debut. A few of them have already made their name in the international arena, while many others are relatively inexperienced. It will be exciting to see how these IPL rookies fare in the coming season. Here is a look at some of the IPL debutants who can make an impact this year.

Shubman Gill (India):

Indian cricket’s ability to produce high-quality batsmen never ceases to amaze anymore. In January this year, we got to witness a batsman who may well go on to be a future batting superstar for India in the coming years. Shubman Gill was the second highest run-scorer of the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand this year with 372 runs from just 6 games with one hundred and three half-centuries. He was one of the prime reasons of India’s dominance in the tournament and impressed everyone with his maturity and class. The 18-year-old Delhi batsman has been bagged by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) for a sum of Rs 1.8 crore and would be eager to prove himself in the IPL. KKR is likely to give him a slot in the middle-order and it will be fascinating to see how the talented Gill copes with the pressure of playing in front of a 70,000-strong Eden Gardens crowd.

D’Arcy Short (Australia):

This 27-year-old Australian left-hander is quite like David Warner – flashy, aggressive and always positive. D’Arcy Short will be featuring in his first IPL and brings an impressive reputation with him. Short took the Big Bash League by storm this year, where he emerged as the leading run-scorer of the 2017-18 season with a whopping 572 runs in 11 matches for the Hobart Hurricanes.

He was immediately drafted into the Australian T20I side after this and, in just five matches for them, smashed two scintillating half-centuries, including a 44-ball 76 against New Zealand at Auckland. Short has been picked up by the Rajasthan Royals for Rs. 4 crore and his swashbuckling batting will definitely bolster their side. The Australian is also a decent left-arm unorthodox spinner and can come in handy for Rajasthan with his bowling as well.

Mujeeb Zadran (Afghanistan):

At just 17 years of age, Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran has become the youngest player in IPL history. If one goes by his recent records and form, he may well be one of the stars of this season. Mujeeb is a right-arm offbreak bowler and was the leading wicket-taker in the recent ICC World Cup Qualifiers with 17 wickets in 8 matches. He has shown his mettle against some really good batsmen and in the finals of the championship against West Indies produced match-winning figures of 4-43.

He has been bought by the Kings XI Punjab this year for a stunning sum of Rs 4 crore and is likely to partner captain Ravichandran Ashwin in the spin department. Mujeeb is known to possess a bag of varieties and the pitches in the IPL can suit his style of bowling. He will be the most exciting IPL debutant to watch this year.

Kamlesh Nagarkoti (India):

One of the best sights for Indian fans during the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year was witnessing an 18-year-young seamer bowling with great pace and making the batsmen hop around in the crease. Kamlesh Nagarkoti has got Indian cricket fans excited and they will be watching his debut season in the IPL with avid interest.

He will feature for KKR who bought him for Rs 3.2 crore. Nagarkoti was one of the leading wicket-takers of the U-19 World Cup and regularly bowled in excess of 140 km/h. What was notable about the young pacer from Rajasthan was his control - he went for a terrific economy rate of just 3.48. If Nagarkoti can continue bowling with such pace and command in the IPL the way he did in the World Cup, he will be quite a handful for the batsmen.  

Jofra Archer (England):

This Caribbean all-rounder plays professionally in England and has all of a sudden become a rage in the shortest format. Jofra Archer was one of the standout players in the Big Bash League in Australia earlier this year with 17 wickets in 13 games. The performance got him a lucrative IPL contract worth Rs 7.2 crore with the Rajasthan Royals and the 23-year-old seam bowler will be eager to prove his worth in the tournament this year.

Archer is very handy as a bowling all-rounder and already has six fifties in 20 first-class games to go with his 89 wickets. He is a useful addition to the Rajasthan setup and can be one of their trump cards with his smart seam bowling. Archer also has that quintessential West Indian swagger and style, which is certain to make him a crowd favourite in the IPL.

Prithvi Shaw (India):

Among the many heroes for India in their 2018 ICC U-19 World Cup triumph was captain Prithvi Shaw. He was one of the tournament’s leading run-scorers and India’s second-highest run-maker. Shaw displayed amazing temperament as an opener and played responsibly throughout. The Mumbai batsman has a solid technique and can handle both pace and spin with equal deftness.

He has been bought by the Delhi Daredevils for Rs.1.2 crore and will be valuable addition to their batting. Shaw should get to open with captain Gautam Gambhir and can help the team pace the innings. The youngster is seen as the next big thing in Indian cricket and a good performance in the IPL this season will go a long way in further establishing him as one for the future.

Krishnappa Gowtham (India):

One of the big buys this IPL auction was Krishnappa Gowtham, who was acquired for a hefty sum of Rs. 6.20 crore by the Rajasthan Royals after some intense bidding. The little known spin bowling all-rounder from Karnataka was part of Mumbai Indians’ squad during IPL 2017 but never played a game. But given the amount he has gone for this time, 29 year-old Gowtham is certain to make his IPL debut this year.

After making his List A debut for Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year, Gowtham has been in great form in domestic cricket and even struck his maiden first-class century against Assam in the Ranji Trophy. In 22 T20 games, he has struck two fifties and taken 20 wickets. He is a perfect utility player and should fit in the Rajasthan Royals setup, which is known to be a haven for underrated players.

 

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